Working with an apprentice…. What you need to know

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As well as providing quality HR services and solutions, we at Blue Tree HR Solutions also provide insight into matters that may affect your business. In this blog, we take a look at apprenticeships.

With 16-year-olds now legally required to stay in some form of education until they are 18, and with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, apprenticeship schemes are a popular choice for young people and business owners alike.

So, what do you need to consider?

  • Training
  • Contracts of employment
  • Salary
  • Employment law
  • Managing expectations

There are many apprenticeship scheme providers who will support businesses with the provision of training – these ensure you have the apprentice attending relevant training and will achieve a registered qualification. So, having that part sorted – what do you need to do in the workplace?

Contracts of employment

All employees should have a contract of employment and apprentices will require a specific apprentice contract.  This will state all the terms of employment as well as your expectations of them during their training course.

An apprenticeship contract is generally a temporary contract – the time depends on the course provided and the qualification being achieved.


The current minimum wage rate in the UK for an apprentice is £3.70 per hour (2018), increasing to £3.90 (April 2019), this is the legal minimum. This rate applies to apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. Apprentices must be paid at least the minimum wage rate for their age if they are an apprentice aged 19 or over and have completed their first year.

However, you will need to consider if you are paying them correctly to avoid failing to meet the minimum wage requirements.

  • Any overtime will need to be paid
  • Travel time to a different place of work will need to be covered i.e. If you are a mobile business such as a videographer or care worker.

Employment law regarding Young Persons (Under 18)

Making sure you avoid infringement of employment law is vital.  One set of regulations that is quite different for young people is the Working Time Directive:

  1. Young people must not work for more than eight hours a day and 40 hours each week.
  2. Generally, night work is not allowed for young people.
  3. Legally require rest breaks and rest periods must be granted.

With regards to health and safety, a risk assessment will be required to decide whether additional steps need to be taken to control the risks to young people and regulations specifically state that you must not employ a young person for certain types of hazardous work.

Managing Expectations

Having just taken on your apprentice – this person who has recently left school and has very limited work experience – how do you progress to a good working relationship with a valued member of staff who can be trusted and relied upon?

Firstly – be prepared for their first days and make a plan for their induction period.  Who will they work with, report to, what do they need to do, follow?  Make a good first impression with your new staff and you will reap benefits.

Make sure they know exactly what you need them to do and how you want them to do it. 

The key is having regular catch-up meetings and reviewing your apprentices’ progress throughout their employment.  Providing regular feedback is imperative.  Generation Zers (under 22-year-olds) have grown up in a world with constant feedback, star charts and reports.  For them to know what you expect and having feedback is fundamental to forming a good working relationship.

Why bother?

Employers have to invest a lot of time and money in apprenticeship programmes, the good news is – when done correctly it will provide a positive impact.

Having apprentices is a great way to grow your team while keeping staff costs down and the training providers help you with the entire process this includes recruiting an apprentice, customising a training programme and accessing funding.

Also, it’s a great way to provide your team with new skills and energy at the same time as giving a young person a career opportunity.

Please get in touch if you have any questions regarding managing young people in the workplace, or have any other queries that could benefit from expert HR advice for small businesses. As the best freelance HR consultant Essex can offer, we also specialise in ad hoc HR and retained HR support for small businesses.

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